‘Secure’ BlackBerry Priv smartphone isn’t getting any Android updates

Graham Cluley

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'Secure' BlackBerry Priv smartphone isn't getting any Android updates

Back in 2015, I mocked a cringeworthy product demo by BlackBerry’s CEO of the Priv, the company’s first Android-powered device.

Judging by the feedback I received on YouTube, BlackBerry fanboys hated my mickey-taking of the Priv, but to be fair – I liked BlackBerry’s stated intention to focus on privacy and security.

The Priv, we were told, was going to be different from Android devices made by other manufacturers because of this.

Well, as The Register reports, maybe the BlackBerry Priv isn’t going to be so different after all.

Having been promised “the most secure Android”, BlackBerry loyalists have seen the promise of monthly security updates stutter recently, with distribution of the monthlies getting patchy (no pun intended).

General manager for mobile software at BlackBerry Alex Thurber confirmed that the aging Priv would not receive Nougat (2016) or Oreo (2017) updates, and couldn’t commit that what he called “transitional” devices such as the more modern DTEK50 and DTEK60 would be on the platform upgrade path to Android N or O.

Speaking about the Priv, Thurber told a mobile fan podcast: “It’s a phone we originally brought out two years ago and in the world of mobile telephones – trying to get a lot of different partners who are involved (a lot comes down to drivers, screen drivers and radio drivers) … to agree to transition to N would not be possible,” he said.

As The Register notes, Samsung doesn’t seem to have had any problems pushing out an Android Nougat (version 7) update to Samsung Galaxy S6 owners – despite that device being launched six months before the Priv.

I’m concerned that there are still so many Android devices out there, and still being actively sold in some cases, which are running out-of-date versions of the Android operating system with no easy path for patching.

I wouldn’t call that even half-decent security.

Graham Cluley Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

3 Replies to “‘Secure’ BlackBerry Priv smartphone isn’t getting any Android updates”

  1. I wish there would be some consistency in referring to Android versions. It does make it difficult to know whether I have a 'modern' version or an old one. My Galaxy 7 says it has Android 7.0. In this article versions are referred to by silly names.

    1. I hear you. I feel that with their naming convention Google is trying to be cutesy but ends up being daft.

      Nougat is Android version 7.

      Oreo is Android version 8.

      You can find a full list here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Android_version_history

  2. Very misleading – the Priv will not get a complete OS version update to Nougat +, understandably, but it still gets monthly security updates like clockwork. In fact, it received the Sept 5th update to protect against the devastating Blueborne malware a full week before outlets even started posting about it's existence.

    Still one of the very few phones (just Pixel and Blackberry Prive/KEYone?) that get these monthly patches. If a device is secured from threats before they go mainstream, then yes – it is one of the most secure Android Handsets.

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